Introduction: Cut Out Paper Buildings With the Silhuoette Portrait

Import your own designs and have the Silhouette cut them out for you.

Step 1: Scan Your Image.

I use a program called Evans Design Model Builder to make scale buildings for model railroads. This program has templates and patterns for making buildings where you can choose your doors, windows, etc. plus the paper tools that make the glue tabs.

Print and scan your image into the Silhouette and rotate if needed.

Make sure you do not change the size of you object if you are working in a modeling scale.

There are tons of patterns for things online that you can print and cut, CubeeCraft comes to mind.

Step 2: Prepare Your Image.

Open the registration Window and select the Portrait setting.

I had to adjust the right side offset to bring the registration mark inside the printing area.

Use the sliders to move the marks if you need to.

I loaded regular photo paper into my printer and selected "Send to Print".

Save your file now so you can reprint it later if you want, this will work with the later save of the trace cut.

Step 3: Trace Your Image.

Open the "Trace Window" and click on "Select trace area" and drag a box around the area you wish to trace.

Some images are easy to get a clean outline and some are not so easy, you can however adjust some settings to get a better outline trace, this takes some experimenting.

Try a setting and select " Trace Outline" then drag your image away to check your trace.

If you are not happy with it, hit CTRL-Z twice, once to return your image and the second to go back before tracing, now adjust the settings and try again. Rinse repeat as needed...

For this image I found the cleanest trace in the image itself made this big splat looking thing off to one side.

Step 4: Clean Up

When you are happy with your trace, you may want to add a few "tell tails" to mark intersections that you will need later. Use the line tool to add small marks so you can find these points later.

Now drag your image away and erase the blob and any other extra lines.

Using the Line Draw tool, fix any missing or incomplete lines.

Step 5: Line Cut Tool.

The normal erase tool can be hard to use but the line cut tool can get up close and is easy to use.

Select the start point then drag a line where you want to erase and release.

Step 6: Prepare to Cut

Place your print on the cutting mat and set it against the rollers. Press the top button and the mat will pull into the machine. Open the "Cut Settings Window" and set up for card stock.

Save this layer in your designs as the cut out layer.

Check that your blade setting matches the machines recommendation ( 4 ) and "Send to Silhouette"

Sometimes this fails and you will get an error message, turn the machine off, then on again and it should go through.

The machine will read the registration marks before cutting each time it runs.


DO NOT remove the matt from the machine after this cut.

Step 7: Glue Tabs.

Back in your computer, drag a box around your trace and R click opening the window, select "group" to make all these lines act as one piece.

Next go in and ad the lines where your tabs will fold. This is where those tell tails will help you find your points.

Step 8: Layer 2 Cut.

Click on your outline and move the grouped outline away from your new lines.

Open the cut settings window and choose Perforate, the blade setting will say 4 but this cuts all the way through so I reset it to 2.

You can save this to your designs as cut layer 2.

Click on "Send to Silhouette"

Step 9: Finished Cut.

The machine made perfect cuts and scored the fold lines!

I flexed the sheet and the pieces fell out, was very nice...

Step 10: Fold and Glue.

I did not score the fold lines on the roof or the corners because it would cut the image in these spots.

Fold your building corners and roof seams first then get everything into shape.

The glue tabs fold down nicely without falling off, glue the walls together first then the roof goes on.

Step 11: You Did It!

These methods can be used for all sorts of paper builds.

You can use pictures of each side of your home to make a model in Photoshop.

Imagine things!